Tragic Gravesend schoolboy Ed Barry went off rails after taking up free running, mother tells inquest
by Alan Watkins
A mother told an inquest jury today how her bright teenage son
who died following a drugs overdose went off the rails
after taking up free running with older men.
Edward Barry was said to have become argumentative, rude,
stole and was increasingly in trouble at home, school and with the
police after beginning the extreme sport - a form of "urban
The former Gravesend Grammar School boy - known as Ed - was just
14 when he died in a Gravesend flat after drinking and taking drugs
in November 2009.
His mother Justine Barry, of Pelham Road South, Gravesend,
said Ed had a girlfriend - identified only as M - who had
emotional problems. The pair were having sexual relations since
they were 13.
She told jurors she repeatedly sought medical, psychiatric
and eventually respite advice and help as Ed began self-harming and
refusing to wash for weeks at a time.
She and her husband, Patrick, also sought help from Kent social
services to recharge their batteries.
They wanted to get Ed away from local drug users and men who
were alleged to have been sexually using him.
"The request was not successful," she said on several
Ed himself sought help from social service, but was also
He wanted to go to a children's home, but walked out in anger
when a social worker said it was "not like Tracy Beaker", said
A fatal dose was found in Ed's body when a post mortem was
held shortly after the discovery in November 2009.
The coroner's counsel, Chris Sutton-Mattocks, revealed he
had consumed valium and methadone.
Coroner Roger Hatch, sitting in Gravesend, originally
ordered that Ed's home address should not be published.
But following representations by KentOnline, he lifted the ban
on naming the street. Others to protect the identities of young
witnesses remain in place.
The inquest is expected to continue for at least two weeks.
An inquest was originally opened in May 2010, but delayed when
the case became embroiled in a row between KCC social services and
The hearing was adjourned after KCC took the coroner to the High
Court in a bid to stop the inquest.
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